For much of the city’s history, any New York household that could afford it lived in their own single-family home. The idea of sharing a residence with other people? Very declasse.
But in 1870, a developer named Rutherford Stuyvesant tried something new with his Stuyvesant Flats at 142 East 18th Street, near Third Avenue.
Inspired by new multi-family buildings that were all the rage in Paris, Stuyvesant spent $100,000 on his five-story structure, hiring architect Richard Morris Hunt to design 16 apartments and four artists’ studios.
“Although lacking an elevator, the building had running (cold) water, a novelty at the time,” states Changing New York, which features a photo of Stuyvesant Flats by Berenice Abbott in 1936 (above).
“Full occupancy followed, and “Parisian Flats” came into vogue. In later years, steam heat and electricity were added, and the building remained fully occupied until its 1958 demolition for Gramercy Green (above right), a 14-story building with 240 apartments.”